No access after midday: The strangest hotel pool rule I’ve ever seen
Rooftop swimming pools in Central London are not common. Real estate space is at an absolute premium, and the often gloomy skies in the United Kingdom can mean that, most of the year, it's not ideal outdoor swimming weather.
When it's a warm and sunny day, however, it's glorious to have access to a rooftop pool.
That's why I was so excited to stay at the new Mondrian Shoreditch London hotel recently.
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I knew from my research that the hotel had a rooftop restaurant, as well as a small swimming pool. When I checked in I was advised that breakfast for all guests was served on the rooftop and the next morning I enjoyed a delicious a la carte breakfast in a fabulously bright, renovated space that made me feel like I was in sunny South Beach, Miami, without needing to leave the gritty Shoreditch neighborhood in London.
During breakfast, I spotted the small rooftop swimming pool next to the restaurant. It wasn't large, and there were no sunbeds nearby to relax on. With such limited space to work with, most of the rooftop has been used for the restaurant.
This made sense to me since I assumed most guests would be more interested in a hearty breakfast each morning than a dip in the pool if they could only choose one or the other.
I asked the rooftop staff about the restaurant and pool opening hours. After all, it would be a lovely spot to watch the sun set across the city on a warm evening with a cocktail in hand.
The staff asked if I was staying at the hotel and I told them I was, even showing them my room key. They abruptly told me the entire rooftop was closed "for a private function" from midday onwards. While this seemed a little unusual, I thought perhaps it was a one-off.
When I checked out of the hotel I asked about the pool and rooftop restaurant and was advised it was completely off-limits to all hotel guests every single day starting midday.
Review: Sexy in the city: A review of the Mondrian Shoreditch London hotel, an Accor Live Limitless property
Because the rooftop is shared with the Curtain Club, a private members club next door. Hotel guests can use the space from 7 a.m. until midday and then it is reserved exclusively for the private members club for the remainder of the day.
I mentioned to the front desk manager that this was a strange rule, to which he replied that a number of guests had commented the same thing.
While I'm positive there was no mention of this rule when I booked back in early September (I do my research before booking a hotel), there is now a small "blink and you'll miss it" disclaimer on the hotel's website:
Mondrian Shoreditch also hosts a [24-hour] gym as well as a pool, which is available for guests from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.
I contacted the hotel to ask them for a comment on this rule, and they extended their "sincerest apologies regarding [the] pool policy."
"Though our website now shows the pool opening hours this should have still been communicated to you at check-in," I was told. The note added that there are two businesses (the hotel and private club) occupying the building, and said they "try [their] best to accommodate hotel guests and club members."
"However," the response concluded, "I definitely understand your frustration in finding out that you could not access the rooftop at certain [hours]."
This relationship between this luxury hotel and the private members club next door is a strange one.
With only one rooftop they are attempting to keep both groups happy with separate access hours. The problem is that hotel guests only receive five of the 24 hours each day that the space could potentially be used, which is likely to irritate high-paying hotel guests, especially in the summer months when rooftops are particularly sought-after amenities.
Perhaps allowing hotel guests access from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., before giving the space to others to party the night away, would be a better compromise.
This is a really fabulous hotel and the half-amenity rooftop rule was really the only thing I disliked about my stay.